Tom Clancy: Bestselling author of The Hunt for Red October dead from undisclosed causes aged 66

Writer was a canny businessman who managed to turn himself into a brand, spawning successful film and video game franchises

Los Angeles

Tom Clancy, the best-selling author of fast-paced military thrillers including The Hunt for Red October and Clear and Present Danger, has died at a hospital in Baltimore, Maryland. His publishers, the Penguin Group, did not disclose his cause of death.

Clancy, 66, sold some 50 million books over his three-decade writing career. Most famously, he created CIA analyst and later US president, Jack Ryan, who tackled Soviet submarines in Red October, Irish republican paramilitaries in Patriot Games, and a neo-Nazi nuclear plot in The Sum of All Fears.

Clancy’s next novel, Command Authority, will be published in December. In the same month, his most celebrated character will appear again in cinemas in the blockbuster Jack Ryan: Shadow One, directed by Sir Kenneth Branagh and starring Chris Pine as the titular super-spy. Ryan has previously been portrayed on screen by Alec Baldwin, Harrison Ford and Ben Affleck.

Of Clancy’s 28 books, 17 topped the New York Times bestsellers list. His writing also appeared in several videogames, after he co-founded the games company Red Storm Entertainment in 1996. Later bought by Ubisoft, the firm released several popular titles based on Clancy concepts, including Splinter Cell, Ghost Recon and Rainbow Six. The author also became a part-owner of the Baltimore Orioles baseball team and in 2002 was 10th in the Forbes Celebrity 100 list, with annual earnings of $47.8m (£29.5m).

Born in Baltimore in April 1947, not far from the US Naval Academy at Annapolis, Clancy was reportedly fascinated by naval history and engineering as a boy. Any ambitions he had to join the military were thwarted, however, by his near-sightedness. Instead, he became an insurance salesman and poured his lifelong interests into his writing.

While researching his first novel, The Hunt for Red October, Clancy interviewed former submariners who worked at a Maryland nuclear power plant. He submitted the manuscript to the Naval Institute Press, which had never released a novel, but agreed to pay him $5,000 to publish. When submarine officers checked the text, they found so few factual errors that they asked the author to cut around 100 pages of technical details.

Published in 1984, the book sold more than five million copies and was made into a 1990 film starring Baldwin and Sean Connery. Its popularity was boosted after a copy made its way to then-President Ronald Reagan, who described it as “my kind of yarn”. As well as his novels, Clancy co-wrote several non-fiction books about the US military’s activities abroad, such as Into the Storm: On the Ground in Iraq and Every Man a Tiger: The Gulf War Air Campaign. The access he was offered by his fans in the services informed many of the plots and details in his fiction, though he insisted that he never revealed any sensitive information about the operations of special forces he met.

Clancy said the key to his success as an author was simple graft. “You learn to write the same way you learn to play golf,” he said. “You do it, and keep doing it until you get it right. Writing isn’t divinely inspired – it’s hard work.”

Arts and Entertainment
Reawakening: can Jon Hamm’s Don Draper find enlightenment in the final ‘Mad Men’?
tv reviewNot quite, but it's an enlightening finale for Don Draper spoiler alert
Arts and Entertainment
Breakfast Show’s Nick Grimshaw

Radio
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment

ebooksNow available in paperback
Arts and Entertainment

ebooks
Arts and Entertainment

Eurovision
Arts and Entertainment
'Youth' cast members Paul Dano, Jane Fonda, Harvey Keitel, Rachel Weisz, and Michael Caine pose for photographers at Cannes Film Festival
film
Arts and Entertainment
Adam West as Batman and Burt Ward and Robin in the 1960s Batman TV show

Comics
Arts and Entertainment
I am flute: Azeem Ward and his now-famous instrument
music
Arts and Entertainment
A glass act: Dr Chris van Tulleken (left) and twin Xand get set for their drinking challenge
TV review
Arts and Entertainment
MIA perform at Lovebox 2014 in London Fields, Hackney

music
Arts and Entertainment
Finnish punk band PKN hope to enter Eurovision 2015 and raise awareness for Down's Syndrome

eurovision
Arts and Entertainment
William Shakespeare on the cover of John Gerard's The Herball or Generall Historie of Plantes

books
Arts and Entertainment

Game of Thrones review
Arts and Entertainment
Grayson Perry dedicates his Essex home to Julie

Potter's attempt to create an Essex Taj Mahal was a lovely treat

tv
Arts and Entertainment
A scene from the original Swedish version of the sci-fi TV drama ‘Real Humans’
tv
Arts and Entertainment
Hugh Keays-Byrne plays Immortan Joe, the terrifying gang leader, in the new film
filmActor who played Toecutter returns - but as a different villain in reboot
Arts and Entertainment
Charlize Theron as Imperator Furiosa in Mad Max: Fury Road
film
Arts and Entertainment
Jessica Hynes in W1A
tvReview: Perhaps the creators of W1A should lay off the copy and paste function spoiler alert
Arts and Entertainment
Power play: Mitsuko Uchida in concert

classical
Arts and Entertainment
Dangerous liaisons: Dominic West, Jake Richard Siciliano, Maura Tierney and Leya Catlett in ‘The Affair’ – a contradictory drama but one which is sure to reel the viewers in
TV review
Arts and Entertainment
Richard Herring, pictured performing at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival two years ago
comedy
Arts and Entertainment
Music freak: Max Runham in the funfair band
theatre
Arts and Entertainment
film 'I felt under-used by Hollywood'
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

ES Rentals

    Independent Dating
    and  

    By clicking 'Search' you
    are agreeing to our
    Terms of Use.

    Sun, sex and an anthropological study: One British academic's summer of hell in Magaluf

    Sun, sex and an anthropological study

    One academic’s summer of hell in Magaluf
    From Shakespeare to Rising Damp... to Vicious

    Frances de la Tour's 50-year triumph

    'Rising Damp' brought De la Tour such recognition that she could be forgiven if she'd never been able to move on. But at 70, she continues to flourish - and to beguile
    'That Whitsun, I was late getting away...'

    Ian McMillan on the Whitsun Weddings

    This weekend is Whitsun, and while the festival may no longer resonate, Larkin's best-loved poem, lives on - along with the train journey at the heart of it
    Kathryn Williams explores the works and influences of Sylvia Plath in a new light

    Songs from the bell jar

    Kathryn Williams explores the works and influences of Sylvia Plath
    How one man's day in high heels showed him that Cannes must change its 'no flats' policy

    One man's day in high heels

    ...showed him that Cannes must change its 'flats' policy
    Is a quiet crusade to reform executive pay bearing fruit?

    Is a quiet crusade to reform executive pay bearing fruit?

    Dominic Rossi of Fidelity says his pressure on business to control rewards is working. But why aren’t other fund managers helping?
    The King David Hotel gives precious work to Palestinians - unless peace talks are on

    King David Hotel: Palestinians not included

    The King David is special to Jerusalem. Nick Kochan checked in and discovered it has some special arrangements, too
    More people moving from Australia to New Zealand than in the other direction for first time in 24 years

    End of the Aussie brain drain

    More people moving from Australia to New Zealand than in the other direction for first time in 24 years
    Meditation is touted as a cure for mental instability but can it actually be bad for you?

    Can meditation be bad for you?

    Researching a mass murder, Dr Miguel Farias discovered that, far from bringing inner peace, meditation can leave devotees in pieces
    Eurovision 2015: Australians will be cheering on their first-ever entrant this Saturday

    Australia's first-ever Eurovision entrant

    Australia, a nation of kitsch-worshippers, has always loved the Eurovision Song Contest. Maggie Alderson says it'll fit in fine
    Letterman's final Late Show: Laughter, but no tears, as David takes his bow after 33 years

    Laughter, but no tears, as Letterman takes his bow after 33 years

    Veteran talkshow host steps down to plaudits from four presidents
    Ivor Novello Awards 2015: Hozier wins with anti-Catholic song 'Take Me To Church' as John Whittingdale leads praise for Black Sabbath

    Hozier's 'blasphemous' song takes Novello award

    Singer joins Ed Sheeran and Clean Bandit in celebration of the best in British and Irish music
    Tequila gold rush: The spirit has gone from a cheap shot to a multi-billion pound product

    Join the tequila gold rush

    The spirit has gone from a cheap shot to a multi-billion pound product
    12 best statement wallpapers

    12 best statement wallpapers

    Make an impact and transform a room with a conversation-starting pattern
    Paul Scholes column: Does David De Gea really want to leave Manchester United to fight it out for the No 1 spot at Real Madrid?

    Paul Scholes column

    Does David De Gea really want to leave Manchester United to fight it out for the No 1 spot at Real Madrid?